An Exegesis on Microsoft Hate

It’s easy to not like Microsoft. Throughout the 80s and 90s, they were the 800lb gorilla in the OS room. Even though Microsoft’s heady days as a de facto monopoly are long behind it, there’s still a lot of people who have an unshakable aversion to the company.

Ned Ballavance heard some of this in a meeting, and in this post breaks down the three types of Microsoft haters. I definitely have fallen into the first category at times in my life, the Linux hippy who can’t stand the big bad MS corporation. This argument loses a lot of steam in the age of Satyamania, when Microsoft has Linux runtimes in their App Store and is a major open source contributor. For a very long time, it seemed Linux and Microsoft were two sides of the development coin. Redmond locked away code to profit off of it, while the Linux crowd demanded that code should be out in the open for all to use (depending on the terms of the actual open source license).

One point I would clarify. I don’t think it invalidates the fundamental philosophical underpinnings of open source development to have major corporations be major contributors. As Ned points out, companies have a very real interest in contributing to these products, if for no other reason than to make their own services run better on them. But that’s all kind of the point. By making the code open, everyone benefits from this cynical act of optimization. Everyone can build off it and make it better, which only improves the feedback loop. I don’t think open source was envisioned to always be a bunch of graybeards esoterically punching out code.

It’s been interesting to see the change in Microsoft since Steve Ballmer left the company. The company has completely shifted away from its focus on Windows, and is more open and service-oriented than ever. It’s interesting though that this hasn’t bought them a ton of outright goodwill from the IT community yet. It’ll be interesting to see how long Microsoft will have to go in that direction before it trickles down to the IT masses.

Ned Bellavance comments:

To say you hate Microsoft is a pointless statement, edging up against inanity. You might as well join a Nu-metal band and rage on about the MAN and your corporate shackles. Or you can grow up, realize that we’re all mostly trying to make the best of the mess we were handed, and stop saying ridiculous things like, “I HATE MICRO$OFT.” You’re not impressing anyone.

Read more at: I HATE MICROSOFT – except I don’t

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.